Eating Well on the Road: Essential Tips and Snacks for Healthy Road Trips

Article posted in: Nutrisystem
Woman eating on a road trip

Whether you’re heading out for a holiday weekend getaway or driving to an amusement park with a minivan full of kids, don’t let your road trip derail your diet. Instead of relying on gas station mini marts or rest stop restaurants, check out our list of the best road trip snacks to sustain you along your route. Plus, get our tips and tricks for eating healthy on the road!

Road Trip Tips to Stay on Track

Summer is prime time for road trips, and traveling can be tough on a weight loss program. Many of the comforts and familiarities of home are gone, and temptation lies everywhere—hotel mini bars, buffets and airport food courts, to name just a few. But with a little planning, you can hit the road and still lose weight. Keep hunger at bay and stay on your weight loss program with these tips designed to help you survive your road trip:

1. Bring Your Own Food

If at all possible, pack your own food so you won’t be tempted by the racks of potato chips and candy that are at every single gas station and rest stop from Maine to San Diego. A small cooler filled with fruit, sliced veggies and hummus, Greek yogurt, string cheese or other filling, low-calorie foods will ensure you have your own healthier options.

Nuts and trail mixes are also good to have on hand: just make sure you avoid the varieties that feature candy pieces. Even better? Make your own trail mix with items from your grocery store’s bulk bins before you even leave home.

One of the beauties of the Nutrisystem program is how portable many of our meals are. You can bring our snacks and bars and have a convenient bite to eat right in your bag. And many of our entrees are easy to carry and can be heated in your hotel’s microwave. Another tip: pack small bags of nuts to snack on. And if it’s a quick trip, bring some cut vegetables and fresh fruit.

2. Keep it Simple

Whenever possible, choose whole foods for a snack or meal. You know, fruit, veggies, eggs, nuts—things that are as close to their natural form as possible. Bananas and apples are usually available in most travel spots, including airports and bus stations. So in a pinch, you can usually find a piece of fruit to tide you over.

3. Fill Up on Protein

There’s a reason beef jerky is a staple of convenience stores: protein content. Eating healthy protein-packed meals and snacks is the perfect way to keep your hunger at bay. Try meat jerkies, cheese, yogurt, nuts and hardboiled eggs, all easily portable snack options that will get you a good few grams of protein and keep your belly full until the next stop.

4. Drink Water

Be sure to drink a little extra water when you’re on the road, because water makes you feel full and can help suppress appetite. Make sure you bring your favorite reusable bottle that you can fill up at every stop.

You probably already know that you should be drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day, but upping that a bit when you travel makes sense. Staying hydrated is key, especially if you happen to indulge in a salty fast food meal or snack.

5. Be Creative When Ordering

You don’t have to give in and order the supersized meal just because your traveling companions insisted on stopping at a fast food joint. Feel free to make changes to your order, like getting a burger without the bread, a burrito without the rice, or trying soup and salad as a meal instead of an appetizer.

You can also split a meal with your traveling partner, take some with you to eat for a future meal or ask for a child’s portion. Always look for whole grain options and order vegetables as a side if at all possible. Refer to the Nutrisystem Dining Out Guide for more tips and tricks for dining out on your weight loss plan!

6. Don’t Forget to Exercise

Road trips often involve long hours of sitting in the car. While you make your way along your route, remember that a walk around a new city is a great way to see the sights and get a bit of exercise at the same time. Keep an eye out for any national parks with walking trails along the way, too. Remember to bring your step counter! If you’re stopping to stay at a hotel for the night, take advantage of the hotel gym to get in a little strength training and cardio before you get back on the road.

7. Stay Mindful

Don’t let busy travel schedules throw you off the program. Remember to eat frequently so that you feel full. You’ll be less likely to go on a binge if you feel satisfied.

How to Eat Healthy on a Road Trip

In the Car

  • Pack pre-portioned snacks. Unsalted nuts, dried fruit, whole-grain crackers or plain popcorn are good options. Divide them into single-serving baggies so you don’t munch through the entire box or bag in one stretch.
  • Stock a cooler. Reduced-fat cheese sticks or slices, Greek yogurt, hummus or guacamole for snacks, and plain, fizzy or flavored water to keep you hydrated.

At a Fast Food Drive-Thru

  • Single-serve your sandwich. Burgers with two and three beef patties can contain close to 1,000 calories; a regular hamburger is about 250 calories. Adding cheese, bacon or special sauces ups the fat; instead, use pickles, onions, mustard or ketchup for flavor. And if you prefer chicken or fish, choose broiled or grilled, not fried.
  • Swap out fries… for a healthier small salad, fruit or yogurt. Or if you really want the fries, get the smallest or kid-sized order.
  • Keep your salad simple. Skip the bacon bits and croutons, and forget that deep-fried shell. Opt for lean, grilled proteins and minimal dressing.

At a Buffet Dinner

  • Survey first. Before you even grab a plate, scan the options and make your choices; then stick to the plan.
  • Divide your plate. The goal: half fruits and vegetables, one-quarter lean protein and one-quarter whole grains.

Best Road Trip Snacks

From hearty bars to salty snacks to sweet treats, we’ve got plenty of smarter options for your trip on the Nutrisystem snack menu. Here are 15 grab-and-go options that are perfect for your next on-the-road adventure.

1. White Cheddar Popcorn

White Cheddar Popcorn

Consider this snack reserved for passengers or parking lots only. That’s because the combo of real cheddar cheese and savory spices on each fluffy pop of corn is so finger-lickin’ delicious, it’ll be tough to keep your hands on the steering wheel. And at 140 calories—plus five grams of protein and three grams of fiber—you can finish the entire satisfying bag and still keep your weight loss on track.

2. Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Nut Square

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Nut Square

Do not scoff at the size of this snack. It shoves peanuts, almonds and walnuts (not to mention eight grams of fiber) into those four sides for your chewing pleasure. The nuts are dusted in sea salt and the square is dipped and drizzled in dark chocolate for that ideal mix of salt and sweet in every bite. What’s not in this treat? Added sugar—proof positive that some of the best things can come in small packages.

3. Chewy Peanut Bar

Chewy Peanut Bar

Two of your favorites join forces to create an uber-decadent snack. Chocolate coats the bar and chewy peanut butter fills the center for a taste of pure indulgence that will no doubt quell your need for something sweet. And it’s 220 calories—making it a no-brainer snack choice for your next trip.

4. Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Why have plain ole’ chocolate chip cookies when you can have ones with walnuts too? You get that home-baked classic goodness mixed with the added crunch and rich flavor of the nuts, plus their heart-healthy, brain-boosting benefits for a win-win snack situation. And for an added bonus: each bag of cookies contains 150 calories.

5. Butter Popcorn

Butter Popcorn

From sweeping seaside to magnificent mountain landscape, popcorn is the perfect snack companion for the scenic routes of your road trip. And this particular bag will not disappoint: the corn is popped tender; it tastes like butter and is seasoned in salt; and it’s ready to eat—no popping required. Plus, it’s got four grams of fiber per serving.

6. Chocolaty Pretzel Bar

Chocolaty Pretzel Bar

This indulgent bar is layered in flavor: crunchy chunks of pretzel swirled in smooth caramel and covered in a rich chocolaty coating treats your taste buds to a trifecta of deliciousness in every single bite. And if that’s not reason enough to pack a few of these sweet picks, each bar contains170 calories and is a good source of satisfying protein.

7. Toffee Crunch Cookies

Toffee Crunch Cookies

They’re rich and buttery; crunchy with a good source of fiber—if you love the flavor of toffee, these mini cookies for you. Each bag is portioned at 140 calories, with five grams of protein and five grams of fiber.

8. Chocolate Flavored Pretzels

Chocolate Flavored Pretzels

So much flavor—plus five grams of satisfying protein—in one very filling 140-calorie snack pack that’s sized to stash in your bag, jacket pocket, glove box … or all three spots.

9. Cheese Puffs

Cheese Puffs

Yup, you can enjoy these cheddar-cheesy snacks guilt-free on your weight loss journey as well as your road trip. That’s because this version is made from lentils, not cornmeal, which pumps up the fiber factor.  Plus, they’re 150 calories and contain seven grams of protein per bag, so they’re perfect to “nip that craving for salty, cheesy, crunchy goodness right in the bud,” according to one reviewer.

10. Lemon Cooler Cookie

Lemon Cooler Cookie

When sugar cravings call, this cookie answers! You’ll love this Lemon Cooler Cookie, packed with the bright flavor of zesty lemons and dusted with powdered sugar. It’s bold, it’s sweet and it’s a good source of fiber—a combo that will keep your energy up and your belly full until your destination.

11. Chocolate Caramel Bar

Chocolate Caramel Bar

Step away from the vending machine if you’re trying to shed extra pounds: instead of grabbing that chocolate candy bar, stock up on this sweet treat. You get that same delicious flavor—sweet caramel and smooth milk chocolate—in a guilt-free package. One serving contains 150 calories.

12. Chocolate Chunk Cookie

Chocolate Chunk Cookie

Craving the flavor of homemade cookies while on the road? Our perfectly portioned Chocolate Chunk Cookie is here to save the day! This moist and delicious cookie is loaded with hearty rolled oats, chocolate chunks and a hint of cinnamon. Not to mention it’s a good source of fiber!

13. Peanut Butter Cookie

Peanut Butter Cookie

Craving the delicious flavor of peanut butter? Indulge guilt-free with our delectable Peanut Butter Cookie. With four grams of belly-filling fiber, this cookie can help keep your hunger at bay as the miles tick by. Plus, each portioned cookie weighs in at 140 calories, so no sharing is required.

14. Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nutrisystem Chocolate Chip Cookies

The taste of rich, sugar-free chocolate chips creates the perfect cookie complement for your coffee to-go. Such a simple flavor, yet so satisfying, with three grams of fiber and seven grams of protein. And at 140 calories per serving, feel free to toss a package of the mini cookies in your purse before heading out the door.

15. Nutrisystem Shakes

nutrisystem shakes

Creamy, delicious and refreshing: Nutrisystem’s low-glycemic shakes are perfect for mixing up on the go. They come in two flavors—chocolate fudge and sweet vanilla! Specially formulated with protein and Chromax®, these ready-to-mix shakes will help you fuel up and feel satisfied. Just throw a scoop in your shaker bottle, add some water and shake!